I love the buzz at conferences. So many people gathered together with a common interest ranging from above average to obviously passionate, as was the case last week at the World Parkinson Congress 2016 (WPC 2016) in Portland, Oregon. It was attended by 4,400 people from 67 countries!
There was a kind and compassionate vibe that I’ve never felt at other health related conferences. Maybe that’s because people living with Parkinson’s were sitting right next to people who care about and for them, either as family or because they work with them. We all wanted to find a cure or at least find ways to help our friends have a better quality of life. Most of the presentations I attended were given by panels that included medical professionals but also people living with Parkinson’s, so we would get all perspectives.
For all the loss that is felt by those living with Parkinson’s, their creativity comes shining through. There was lots of humor; for instance, when a Dutch gentleman introduced us to a song he wrote, “What shall we do with a freezing Parki?” (sung to the tune of “What do you with a drunken sailor?”). There was also an impressive display of quilts, an Art Walk, and a Book Nook with about 60 books and the opportunity to meet some of the authors. The WPC Choir sang at the opening ceremony and because they came from different countries, rehearsals were conducted in the months prior to the congress by Internet video, with their only in-person rehearsal on the day of their performance. My favorite show of creativity was the winning submission to the video contest that was shown at the Opening Ceremony. It was called Victory and had a catchy tune that had the audience tapping their feet and clapping along. I found myself humming it throughout the week.
Victory really captured the essence and upbeat feeling of the congress which was planned as “a meeting of hope” – hope for a cure and, until one is found, hope for a better quality of life for everyone touched by Parkinson’s.
Here are some links to some of the displays and performances I mentioned: